Job creation is the consistent media mantra of the Obama administration, yet there seems to be little evidence in manifestation particularly for people of color in the United States. Alarmed at the rates, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) President Lawrence Mishel recently addressed the unemployment crisis and its disproportionate impact on people of color during the NAACP’s annual meeting in New York. Mishel, whose organization recently released a report on the sluggish economic recovery, presented a serious look at the reasons behind and solutions for this crisis.
A recent report by the EPI predicts that the national unemployment rate will remain above 15 percent for African-Americans through 2012, and that it may take up to a decade before pre-recession levels of unemployment are restored. Mishel also notes that factoring in various types of underemployment, such as those part-time workers who cannot find full-time work, results in a rate closer to 25%. He believes that government must play an active role in putting Americans back to work. “Unfortunately, what is unacceptable is being accepted by today’s policy debate,” stated Mishel. “Although there is much mention of jobs, there is little being offered that will change the circumstances of the unemployed and the vulnerable. Budget cuts at both the state and federal levels will only diminish the overall need for workers, as well as scale back needed programs.”
“Those who care about families facing unemployment and the continued pressure to cut wages and benefits should be focusing their efforts on job creation,” he continued. “After all, the reason why we have large deficits is that we have a huge recession where the unemployed are not paying taxes and firms earn subpar profits. The first step toward a sustainable fiscal situation is actually to put people back to work.”
Many are looking to “green jobs” as a potential avenue for African-Americans to achieve economic stability. In fact, a presentation given at a Black Congressional Caucus Foundation Legislative Conference analyzed the industry in depth. There are an expected 746,102 green jobs anticipated with 11% of those potentially going toward African-Americans. However, 3/4 of those are seen as “male jobs” due to the construction aspects. This employment meets the requirement of a “good job” given that they are to have an hourly wage of at least 60% of the median household income annually and provide health insurance and a retirement plan.
But most Americans still seem to waiting for these so-called green jobs to appear, as much of it seems tied to partisan politics.
In the meantime, African-Americans will be called upon to be more creative, better educated and better networked than ever before in order to earn a living in the United States.
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